Student safety tips for a successful new school year

August 14, 2014 | 10:02 am


For the majority of students in Bakersfield and Kern County, Aug. 18 is back-to-school time. It’s important for students to have a safe environment at school, and also to and from school. Read below for various safety tips and advice — courtesy of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office — on how to protect your children, and how to teach them to protect themselves.

And for many student athletes, it’s time for football season. Through the summer, high school student athletes have been training in preparation for the upcoming season. Recently, more than 120 Kern County high school coaches, trainers and athletic directors attended the ninth annual “Head Injuries in Student Athletes Symposium” organized by Hall Ambulance Service with the Kern High School District. It was aimed to provide coaches and their staff management skills for when an athlete suffers a concussion, including proper procedures for a player to return to play.

Student-athlete safety

With concussion awareness being at the forefront of football these days, it’s important for athletes and coaches to stay knowledgeable on the subject. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that jolts the brain inside the skull, and is usually caused by a bump or blow. Student athletes are more prone to suffering a concussion, especially playing body contact sports such as football, Dr. Ron Ostrom, Hall Ambulance medical director, said recently on “First Look with Scott Cox.”

The Kern High School District reported  80 cases of head injuries among students in 2011, according to KERO Channel 23. In 2013, the number of reported head injury cases was 531.

Bakersfield attorney Marshall Frasher, with the personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, presented during the symposium. Lawyers from the law firm for more than 10 years have provided their time to educate local high school coaches on legal issues associated with school sports.

During a one-hour presentation, Frasher discussed legal issues associated with school sports, liability in sports, and examples of  real-life cases of negligence and inappropriate sexual relations, among other things.

The symposium as a whole also covered legislation aimed at creating statewide safety standards for the protection of athletes. Governor Brown this summer signed AB 2127, limiting the number of full-contact practices for middle and high school football teams to two per week during their regular season. The new law also prohibits full-contact practices during the off-season.

To learn what to do in case an athlete suffers a concussion, visit this Bakersfield Wellness Magazine page here. 

School safety

Kern County and Bakersfield students today are faced with far more than learning new material. Interacting with teachers and other students, bullying, peer pressure and school violence are just a few of the challenges children face.

You can help prepare your children for the situations they will face at school each day and help create a safer school environment. The Kern County Sheriff’s Office has provided the following safety tips:

Getting to School:

  • Give yourself plenty of time as you and your children adjust to the new school schedule.
  • Map out a safe way for your children to walk to school or to the bus stop.
  • Work with other parents in the neighborhood to ensure that children in the neighborhood are supervised closely to and from school.
  • Work with your neighbors and your child on identifying “safe houses,” or homes of neighbors who your child is familiar with if your child is scared or needs help on the way to/ from school.
  • Point out places they should avoid, such as vacant lots, alleyways and construction areas.
  • Encourage your children to use the “buddy system.”
  • Teach your children to never speak to strangers, or go anywhere with a stranger, and let them know it’s OK to report if a stranger tries to approach them.
  • Teach your children to always be aware of their surroundings. Be aware of slow moving vehicles or parked vehicles that appear to be occupied. Choose a different route or walk on the opposite side of the street.
  • Children need to pay attention to traffic signals and use crosswalks with a crossing guard if available.

Bus Safety:

  • Make sure your children arrive at least five minutes early for the bus.
  • Make sure your children know to stand on the sidewalk while waiting for the bus.
  • Teach your children to make sure the bus driver can see them before walking in front of the bus, and to never walk behind a bus.
  • Be aware that bullying often happens on the bus. Ask your children about their bus rides, who they sit with, and what goes on in the bus. Encourage them to report any bullying behavior.

After School:

  • Have your children check in with an adult as soon as they get home.
  • Show them how to properly lock all doors and windows.
  • Make sure they know to never open a door to a stranger.
  • Establish a set of rules; who can come over, when homework must be done, and any chores they must do before you get home.
  • Find a trusted neighbor who will allow your children to come over in case of an emergency.
  • Establish strict rules regarding Internet usage.

At School:

  • Teach your children to resolve problems without fighting.
  • Encourage your children to report bullying behavior, either as a victim or a witness.
  • Ask school officials if Internet use is monitored closely.
  • Ask school officials about the safety and emergency plans for the school, all schools are required to have one.

Bullying:

  • Listen to children and encourage them to talk about their day.
  • Take all complaints about bullying seriously; if you don’t your child may not tell you next time.
  • Watch for symptoms such as withdrawal, a drop in grades, or new friends.
  • Notify the school immediately if you think your child is being bullied, and make sure the school investigates and takes action.
  • Praise your children when they are kind to others.
  • Teach children self-protection skills, how to walk and talk confidently, staying alert to their surroundings, and to stand up for themselves verbally.

For even more back-to-school safety tips, visit the Chain | Cohn | Stiles website here.

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UPDATE: Bakersfield Police Department and the Californian Office of Traffic Safety also provided some tips and advice to stay safe on the first day of school, especially since August is “Back to School Safety Month.” The month is designated for promoting traffic safety among parents and children of all ages who walk, ride their bicycle, take the bus or are driven to and from school.

The following safe walking, bicycling and driving practices can be effective if parents teach their kids early and often, and set good examples themselves:

Reminders for parents or guardians

• Plan ahead. Plot your route and give yourself a few extra minutes to accommodate possible commute delays during mornings and afternoons. Apply any makeup and eat breakfast before you leave your house in the morning to avoid distractions while on the road.

• Exercise caution around schools and neighborhoods. Given the increase in pedestrian and bike traffic, drivers should always follow the posted speed limit inside school zones, which is often 25 mph maximum but may be as low as 15 mph. Keep an eye out for any children in the area.

• Drop-off zones. Be extra aware around school drop off zones, and make sure your kids are, too. Too many parents are in a hurry to leave and don’t watch for other children.

• Cell phone use. If you must use your phone, pull over into a parking spot when it is safe to do so.

Reminders for students

• Biking or walking to school. If you have a child that will be biking or walking to school, make sure they know the safest route, are familiar with traffic signals and signs, and remind them to stop and look both ways to make sure no cars are coming before using crosswalks. Children must also always wear a properly fitted helmet if he or she is riding a bike or skateboard; it’s the law.

• Riding a school bus. If your child rides a school bus, make sure that he or she knows to remain seated at all times, to keep the aisles clear, not to throw objects, not to shout or distract the driver, and to keep his or her hands and arms inside of the bus. When a school bus stops to load or unload passengers and its red lights are flashing, all vehicles must stop – in both directions. If the bus stop is on a divided highway, then only those vehicles approaching from the rear must stop.

Additional child safety tips and information can be found at www.ots.ca.gov, at facebook.com/CaliforniaOTS and at twitter.com/OTS_CA.